10 Tips for Interacting With Customers on Social Media

November 24, 2010

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have have provided platforms to major retailers for direct communication and engagement with the customer–and the potential for building the kind of loyalty that our grandparents remember (and in some cases, still abide by).

But as we uncovered in our social media report card, some retailers truly understand social networking tools and sites, while many are just beginning to get the hang of it. Smart companies realize that having a robust social media presence will be (if it isn’t already) as important as having a traditional website.

So here are 10 tips for maximizing customer engagement when it comes to social networking tools and sites:

1. Be there or be square. Social media is all about interaction and engagement. Make sure that authorized company reps are posting updates often and acknowledging users’ questions, complaints and comments in a timely manner.

2. Monitor user-generated comments and content. An open and free discussion is welcome. Profanity is not.

3. Make use of polls, games, contests and the like to engender interest and affinity.

4. Give fans and followers a sense of ownership by not only allowing, but also encouraging them to share photos, videos, notes, etc.

5. Provide users with plenty of bang for their social media buck. For example, on Facebook, make customers (and potential customers) glad they became fans by offering Facebook-only coupons or advance notice of sales and special events on Facebook.

6. Develop internal policies around who can represent the organization on social media sites and what they can say.

7. Provide a bridge between your social media sites and e-mail newsletters, your corporate website, etc.

8. Promote your social media presence through newsletters, in-store signage, direct mail, coupons, and so on. In other words, just about every piece of customer-facing collateral should include promotion of your corporate social media presence.

9. Be flexible and open to change. As with any new technology, social media platforms will herk and jerk as they find their footing. Be sure that your presence reflects and takes advantage of the very latest features the sites have to offer.

10. Be cognizant not only of legal terms of service but also of the going culture and etiquette of social media. As with any social situation, it’s far too easy to say the right thing in the wrong way.